Local News

Usher Charged With Stealing From Church Collection Plate

Posted January 2, 2007

— After a tip that a 75-year-old usher was stealing church donations, Cary police performed an undercover sting in the middle of Sunday Mass.

According to investigators, James MacCaline, a lifelong member of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary and an usher for about 20 years, may have stolen money out of collection baskets for months. Jimmy Mac, as he's known by St. Michael’s parishioners, was arrested on Sunday.

Police set up 10 hidden cameras in the church and placed themselves in the congregation as the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and last Sunday's Masses were celebrated. The officers added $20 bills to the collection, copying the serial numbers off the money beforehand. MacCaline was arrested during the New Year's Eve Mass.

“It was while the collection was going on right inside the church, as the basket was being passed and the money was palmed into his hand and then into his pocket,” Capt. Dave Wullf of the Cary Police Department said.

Monsignor Tim O'Connor, the pastor at St. Michael’s, said church members began telling him last February that they had witnessed MacCaline stealing money.

When asked why church officials took almost 11 months to contact the police, Wulff said, “It's very possible that they were waiting to have enough evidence themselves to come forward.”

Officials at St. Michael’s said it is unknown how much money might have been stolen or the motive for the alleged thefts.

“He was completely shocked,” Wulff said about MacCaline’s reaction to his arrest.

MacCaline was charged with misdemeanor larceny and is expected to be in court in about a month. He declined to talk to WRAL on Tuesday. The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh also declined to comment on the case.

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  • LuvLivingInCary Jan 15, 2007

    A bunch of us members here are going to see the Bishop. We'll get rid of this bozo as a Pastor. All of this for $20. We love you Jimmy Mac and we will make it threw this.

  • dirtydragons Jan 15, 2007

    Some are saying the family should have been called &/or contacted which is total BS! If you have a maide or gardener you suspect is stealing from you, you wouldn't call their family you'ld call the cops. Who knows how much and for how long this had been going on. Sickness or not I could never trust him again, forgiveness maybe after restitution had been served.

  • twoncbois Jan 12, 2007

    What I would like to know is why the Church didn't cover this up like they did the CHILD SEX ABUSE. Go after a old sick man for a few bucks, but the Church spend 1.2 million to pay off CHILD SEX ABUSE. What the HELL is wrong with this picture people. How can anyone say the church is right, they sure didn't turn their own in but instead used church money that was for church bills and the poor to pay off ABUSE claims. LETS GET REAL. And jteder01, do you stand behind the church on the CHILD SEX ABUSE??

  • jteder01 Jan 10, 2007

    I think Monsignor Tim did the right thing. We do not really know how long this has been going on. I agree with the other comment when I say, If he was seeing his deceased father then that points to a nurological problem and I don't know about you, but I would never let someone drive on the road in that condition. I am also very disturbed at the comment that said Monsignor should be removed is absolutly Nutts!! I don't know where your from but that is just wrong. I can't belive you would say that about a church figure! Monsignor is a great man and I stand by his decision.

  • joanncars Jan 8, 2007

    Unfortunately, the church was in a no win situation no matter what they chose to do. The man's family claims that Mr. Maccaline has the mental capacity of a 10 year old. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't let a 10 yr old drive alone from Fuquay Varina to St Michael's Church. Additionally if the other ushers were suspicious of this man AND saw mental deterioration, shouldn't they have told him that they didn't need him to be an usher any longer? Something doesn't add up!

  • 000minus1 Jan 8, 2007

    It is about the money and it should be. I am a taxpayer in Cary and I want a refund. The Church should have to pay for the "sting" operation. We should spend thousands of dollars so the ultra-conservatives can practice their trade on 75 year olds? If the church had to foot the bill, maybe they would have thought to give this guy a few bucks instead. That's what churches do. Calling the police should have been only to remove the man from the property if after the church did the right thing, and he refused, and the church was in a position to ask him to leave the congregation, and he refused. The pastor should be removed immediately, investigated, and exiled. I bet he is personally in cahoots with one on the PD. I refuse to pay for a sting operation of this magnitude for this situation. The CPD are out of control. Anyone who believes this was right, I hope your parents, grandparents, and kids are busted for opening that perfume bottle at Wal-Mart to smell the fragrance.

  • They call me CATMAN Jan 8, 2007

    The man was wrong, Bottom Line blame a mental Illness but the man was wrong. As far as the church goes they have every right to handle thai how they see fit. More then likly the man woyuld have denied the whole thing then what? People were complaing for a while if anything the church should have taken action way before all this happened.

  • kahshop Jan 4, 2007

    Onceacrook, You accuse someone of judging someone else without having walked in their shoes, yet...without knowing them or they're story you have committed the same offense and very self-righteously I might add. Your entry is very defensive as if almost taken personally. Did someone strike a nerve with you?

  • elibbybh Jan 3, 2007

    I don't think stealing is right but I would hope that my 'church family' would come to me first if they suspected me of stealing before contacting the police. We never know what's going on with a person. Maybe he thought that if he did this a couple of times that he would get caught and then he could state his case. It's not like they didn't know who the 'suspect' was. I just really think the church could have tried to handle it internally first, to find out what the details are and then if warranted, contact the police. And all those security cameras in the church, cops planted in the congregation sounds like a little overkill to me. Makes me wonder what other crimes that were committed that night went unsolved.

  • rukidding Jan 3, 2007

    In my church, this would have been handled by the church, not the police. Why didn't someone from the church handle this? Something was obviously wrong with this old man, maybe to proud to ask for help. Did it really hurt anyone but himself? Church, no matter what kind of church, should not be about money. It should be about God. God would have wanted someone to help this man, by giving him what he needed, not arresting him. How horrible is this. Say a prayer for the church who would arrest a 30 year member at his age and health, and not try to help him. They obviously need just as much prayer as this man does.